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Temporal Task Queues and Worker Processes are tightly coupled components.

A Task is the context that a Worker needs to progress with a specific Workflow ExecutionLink preview icon

or Activity ExecutionLink preview icon.

There are two types of Tasks:

Workflow Task

A Workflow Task is a Task that contains the context needed to make progress with a Workflow Execution.

Workflow Task Execution

A Workflow Task Execution is when a Worker picks up a Workflow Task and uses it to make progress on the execution of a Workflow function.

Activity Task

An Activity Task contains the context needed to proceed with an Activity Task ExecutionLink preview icon

. Activity Tasks largely represent the Activity Task Scheduled Event, which contains the data needed to execute an Activity Function.

If Heartbeat data is being passed, an Activity Task will also contain the latest Heartbeat details.

Activity Task Execution

An Activity Task Execution is when the Worker uses the Context provided from the Activity TaskLink preview icon

and executes the Activity DefinitionLink preview icon (also known as the Activity Function).

The ActivityTaskScheduled Event corresponds to when the Temporal Cluster puts the Activity Task into the Task Queue.

The ActivityTaskStarted Event corresponds to when the Worker picks up the Activity Task from the Task Queue.

Either ActivityTaskCompleted or one of the other Closed Activity Task Events corresponds to when the Worker has yielded back to the Temporal Cluster.

The API to schedule an Activity Execution provides an "effectively once" experience, even though there may be several Activity Task Executions that take place to successfully complete an Activity.

Once an Activity Task finishes execution, the Worker responds to the Cluster with a specific Event:

  • ActivityTaskCanceled
  • ActivityTaskCompleted
  • ActivityTaskFailed
  • ActivityTaskTerminated
  • ActivityTaskTimedOut

Task Queue

A Task Queue is a lightweight, dynamically allocated queue that one or more Worker EntitiesLink preview icon

poll for TasksLink preview icon.

Task Queues do not have any ordering guarantees. It is possible to have a Task that stays in a Task Queue for a period of time, if there is a backlog that wasn't drained for that time.

There are two types of Task Queues, Activity Task Queues and Workflow Task Queues.

Task Queue component

Task Queue component

Task Queues are very lightweight components. Task Queues do not require explicit registration but instead are created on demand when a Workflow Execution or Activity spawns or when a Worker Process subscribes to it. When a Task Queue is created, both a Workflow Task Queue and an Activity Task Queue are created under the same name. There is no limit to the number of Task Queues a Temporal Application can use or a Temporal Cluster can maintain.

Workers poll for Tasks in Task Queues via synchronous RPC. This implementation offers several benefits:

  • A Worker Process polls for a message only when it has spare capacity, avoiding overloading itself.
  • In effect, Task Queues enable load balancing across many Worker Processes.
  • Task Queues enable what we call Task RoutingLink preview icon, which is the routing of specific Tasks to specific Worker Processes or even a specific process.
  • Task Queues support server-side throttling, which enables you to limit the Task dispatching rate to the pool of Worker Processes while still supporting Task dispatching at higher rates when spikes happen.
  • When all Worker Processes are down, messages simply persist in a Task Queue, waiting for the Worker Processes to recover.
  • Worker Processes do not need to advertise themselves through DNS or any other network discovery mechanism.
  • Worker Processes do not need to have any open ports, which is more secure.

All Workers listening to a given Task Queue must have identical registrations of Activities and/or Workflows. The one exception is during a Server upgrade, where it is okay to have registration temporarily misaligned while the binary rolls out.

Where to set Task Queues

There are four places where the name of the Task Queue can be set by the developer.

  1. A Task Queue must be set when spawning a Workflow Execution:
  1. A Task Queue name must be set when creating a Worker Entity and when running a Worker Process:

Note that all Worker Entities listening to the same Task Queue name must be registered to handle the exact same Workflows Types and Activity Types.

If a Worker Entity polls a Task for a Workflow Type or Activity Type it does not know about, it will fail that Task. However, the failure of the Task will not cause the associated Workflow Execution to fail.

  1. A Task Queue name can be provided when spawning an Activity Execution:

This is optional. An Activity Execution inherits the Task Queue name from its Workflow Execution if one is not provided.

  1. A Task Queue name can be provided when spawning a Child Workflow Execution:

This is optional. A Child Workflow Execution inherits the Task Queue name from its Parent Workflow Execution if one is not provided.

Sticky Execution

A Sticky Execution is when a Worker Entity caches the Workflow Execution Event History and creates a dedicated Task Queue to listen on.

A Sticky Execution occurs after a Worker Entity completes the first Workflow Task in the chain of Workflow Tasks for the Workflow Execution.

The Worker Entity caches the Workflow Execution Event History and begins polling the dedicated Task Queue for Workflow Tasks that contain updates, rather than the entire Event History.

If the Worker Entity does not pick up a Workflow Task from the dedicated Task Queue in an appropriate amount of time, the Cluster will resume Scheduling Workflow Tasks on the original Task Queue. Another Worker Entity can then resume the Workflow Execution, and can set up its own Sticky Execution for future Workflow Tasks.

Sticky Executions are the default behavior of the Temporal Platform.

Task Routing

Task Routing is simply when a Task Queue is paired with one or more Workers, primarily for Activity Task Executions.

This could also mean employing multiple Task Queues, each one paired with a Worker Process.

Task Routing has many applicable use cases.

Flow control

A Worker that consumes from a Task Queue asks for an Activity Task only when it has available capacity, so it is never overloaded by request spikes. If Activity Tasks get created faster than Workers can process them, they are backlogged in the Task Queue.


The rate at which each Activity Worker polls for and processes Activity Tasks is configurable per Worker. Workers do not exceed this rate even if it has spare capacity. There is also support for global Task Queue rate limiting. This limit works across all Workers for the given Task Queue. It is frequently used to limit load on a downstream service that an Activity calls into.

Specific environments

In some cases, you might need to execute Activities in a dedicated environment. To send Activity Tasks to this environment, use a dedicated Task Queue.

Route Activity Tasks to a specific host

In some use cases, such as file processing or machine learning model training, an Activity Task must be routed to a specific Worker Process or Worker Entity.

For example, suppose that you have a Workflow with the following three separate Activities:

  • Download a file.
  • Process the file in some way.
  • Upload a file to another location.

The first Activity, to download the file, could occur on any Worker on any host. However, the second and third Activities must be executed by a Worker on the same host where the first Activity downloaded the file.

In a real-life scenario, you might have many Worker Processes scaled over many hosts. You would need to develop your Temporal Application to route Tasks to specific Worker Processes when needed.

Code samples:


Some SDKs provide a Session API that provides a straightforward way to ensure that Activity Tasks are executed with the same Worker without requiring you to manually specify Task Queue names. It also includes features like concurrent session limitations and worker failure detection.

Route Activity Tasks to a specific process

Some Activities load large datasets and cache them in the process. The Activities that rely on those datasets should be routed to the same process.

In this case, a unique Task Queue would exist for each Worker Process involved.

Workers with different capabilities

Some Workers might exist on GPU boxes versus non-GPU boxes. In this case, each type of box would have its own Task Queue and a Workflow can pick one to send Activity Tasks.

Multiple priorities

If your use case involves more than one priority, you can create one Task Queue per priority, with a Worker pool per priority.


Task Routing is the simplest way to version your code.

If you have a new backward-incompatible Activity Definition, start by using a different Task Queue.